How to Manage a Deceased Person’s Credit Report

Although not something many people think about until they are faced with the problem, it is important to get a credit report for a deceased person. You may need to make sure the credit report is accurate and take stock of which creditors you need to notify of the death, or see if there is any unresolved debt that you are unaware of.

It’s not uncommon for criminals to try to take advantage of a deceased person’s failure to check their credit, which can increase the risk of identity theft and credit card fraud. This is why it is crucial to manage this process as quickly as possible.

Get someone else’s credit report

In general, only the person who is the subject of the credit report should have access to it. But there are times when you may need to remove someone else’s report, such as the death of a loved one. Other cases may arise when you are checking someone’s credit as part of a job application or rental property or if you are helping someone work on their credit. Here are some frequently asked questions about getting someone else’s report.

  • How do you check someone’s credit history? You must have permission to check someone’s credit history, which can be as simple as checking a box on a rental or employment application. Once you have their permission, you can use their social security number, name, and date of birth to complete a background check that includes a credit history.
  • Can you check someone else’s credit report? Yes, you can, but you must have their permission and personal information to be able to pull the correct report. This is common in situations where an agency or individual helps another person repair their credit or address inaccuracies after identity theft.
  • Should you notify the credit bureaus of a death? Yes, you must notify the three major credit bureaus as soon as possible after a death to ensure the account is marked as deceased and no one else can open credit in the person’s name.
Obtain the deceased’s credit report

One of the most common situations where you will need to obtain someone else’s credit report is when a loved one dies and you are the estate’s fiscal agent and/or executor. Here are the steps to follow to obtain your loved one’s credit report after their death and how to protect their inheritance.

1. Gather all the papers

It is much easier to begin the process of obtaining a credit report if you already have the necessary documents. Each of the three different credit bureaus may have different requirements for reporting someone’s death and getting their report, so you can call and find out what documents are required ahead of time. The most requested are:

  • A copy of the durable financial power of attorney, if applicable

  • Proof that you have been appointed executor

  • Probate Court Testamentary Letters

  • An official copy of the death certificate

It’s a good idea to get at least one copy of these documents for each of the three offices, but you’ll probably also want a copy for yourself and another backup just in case.

5 key tax questions when you’re responsible for a loved one’s estate

2. File the will if necessary

Before you can begin the process of obtaining the credit report, you will need to file the will with probate court. To do this, you will need a certified copy of the death certificate, which can be obtained from your local health department for a small fee. If there is no will or named executor of the estate, you may need to file a petition with the courts to be named executor.

3. Submit death certificate and other documents to credit agencies

Once you have gathered all your documents, you are ready to start submitting documents to the credit bureaus. Remember that you will need to report the death and request the report from the three main offices: Experian, EXPGY,
TransUnion TRU,
and Equifax. EFX,
Along with the death certificate, power of attorney, and letters of testament, you will also need to include a cover letter explaining that the person is deceased and that you need to get the reports to get their affairs in order. Your letter should also include:

  • The name of the deceased

  • Last mailing address used

  • Social Security number

You may also need to send a check or pay over the phone or online to get the report, depending on bureau policies and the date the credit report was last obtained.

4. Review the credit report

Go through the credit report, checking carefully for any inaccuracies – misspellings of name and address are common – and note any open accounts that need to be paid with the estate or notified of death. It’s a common misconception that all debts are automatically erased when someone dies, but that’s not the case, so it’s important to know what else will need to be taken care of. Make sure to be on the lookout for anything unusual, it could be a sign of suspicious activity.

5. Update all creditors and Social Security Administration

The final step is to update the credit bureaus, outstanding creditors, and Social Security Administration of the death. You may be wondering, “What happens to your credit report when you die?” Until the credit bureaus are notified that a death has occurred, nothing happens to the credit report. Once the proper documentation has been submitted and the request has been made, the bureaus will mark the account as deceased.

Don’t Miss: My Dying Friend Wants to Marry Me So I Can Get His Social Security – Should I?

This means that no additional credit will be given to the person’s name and no additional accounts can be opened, which helps protect against identity theft and credit card fraud. The death certificate should be all that is needed to complete this step.

Previous How to Build Credit to Increase Your Credit Report and Score
Next What does a credit report contain and why is it important?